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Why should a congregation send scarce resources to support classis?

It shouldn’t…. UNLESS the classis is providing valuable services to the congregation, or is advancing goals that are important to the congregation.

The classis must offer the congregations an avenue for concretely expressing their values in the world.

Maybe it’s a little risky to talk so crassly about money, but unless we get real about how we use the resources God gives us, we’ll waste money, increase frustration, and continue to fade as a denomination.

So, how do we allocate our money to the congregation, the classis, the denomination? Where our passions are… where we receive something of value in return… where giving makes us part of a community we respect and want to share with…. where it will be used consistently with our core values… where we can express the unique nature of the Church of Jesus Christ. A congregation that sees the classical budget as meeting these criteria will pay ministry share with joy and to the best of its ability.

This is not just about how to shape a better marketing campaign. Here are some highly provocative questions that can help revitalize the classis, and thus its support systems:

  • Does the classis offer goods and services that align to what is important to congregations, especially non-cradle members?
  • Does the classis offer services that help the congregations become vital, healthy, and effective?
  • Have we built broad and deep conviction in a wide range of churches and leaders in the health of the classis?
  • Does the classis clearly enact Kingdom values, and does it do so in a way that the local church cannot do alone?
  • Can the case be made that the classis is providing unique value and services that can’t be found anywhere else?

Classis needs to equip congregational leaders to make a convincing case for sending precious resources to the classis. Classis needs to be aligned well to the priorities and passions of the congregations. Classis must be able to demonstrate efficient and effective use of resources.

Unless we can have some healthy dialog about these matters, I’m afraid the days of vibrant denominations are probably numbered.

(You’ll find these points and so much more in the book The Fly in the Ointment by J. Russell Crabtree.)


KW raises an interesting topic. Wrong headline - resources are not scarce but people willing to part with them are! When is the last time a church bulletin has had a report from a Classis meeting on it? Each church sends two people, do they ever report to the congregation? There are 52 Sunday bulletins put out in most churches. Classis meetings I believe are twice a year.  Could churches make room on the bulletin for "Classis News" at least once a month? Who would do this and who would edit?   Maybe pastors who are the communicators and often attend the meetings might take this on. Most churches will have someone talented in writing to do it as well.

At last count CRCNA congregations are growing in number (but churches are getting smaller in number). That implies that Classis' are getting more people to attend its meeting with fewer people to report back to!

Measuring congregational "passions" may not be as simple as KW makes it out to be. If you measure passion based on donations, many congregations, hands down, have WR (CRWRC).  Many others have climate change high on their agenda (based on the time spent on it).

Some countries in Europe are looking at doing away with provincial legislatures (our Classis?). In this country (Canada) many communities are being "eaten up" by big cities.  That implies centralization for efficiency and cost savings. Does this have application in the CRCNA? What role does technology play for the CRCNA? Participation at Synod via online was very encouraging and lots of room for greater involvement.

The CRCNA has three agencies that have the word "International" or "World" in it. How much does the CRCNA pay for Agency Directors and other employees resident in North America to fly to the farthest corners of the world? How many use Skype or Teleconferencing instead? (This of course gets Ministry shares brought into the discussion.)

Last year the folks in CRCNA HO tried to inform congregations on Ministry Shares, via what I call the "Frisbee" program. Great idea but not great execution.

KW has good questions. Who is going to volunteer to base a congregational meeting around his questions and then share the results?

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